The respect that Sam Burgess commands throughout rugby league will allow him to inspire Warrington after the “disaster” of Daryl Powell as head coach.
That’s the firm belief of Sam Tomkins, a long-time England team-mate of Burgess who will take his first role as a head coach when he arrives to lead the Wolves into the 2024 Super League season.
Eyebrows were raised when Warrington turned to coaching novice Burgess after sacking Powell, one of the most experienced and respected head coaches in the British game.
But speaking exclusively to Love Rugby League, Tomkins – who will link up again with Burgess to help the England squad in their three-match series with Tonga this autumn – believes Warrington have taken a calculated gamble.
“Warrington have tried different options as coach so this is something a bit different,” he said.
“They had a really well thought of Australian in Steve Price who delivered a Challenge Cup but it’s a Grand Final they need. He didn’t change the club at all, so then they went for an experienced English coach in Daryl Powell and that was a disaster.
“There’s not many like him.”
“Burgess is clearly a different path, a big name who is a very good leader, somebody who can walk into a dressing room and have the respect of every player from a veteran like Stefan Ratchford to an 18-year old. He will be able to implement change and command respect.
“Anyone involved in rugby league knows Sam Burgess and what he has done in the game. There’s not many like him so whatever capacity he is involved with England he will have the respect of everyone involved.”
Tomkins also believes it is another former Great Britain man who is currently helping out at the Wolves, who could yet hold the key to their revival next season.
Martin Gleeson has been working with interim boss Gary Chambers and assistant Richard Marshall since Powell’s departure, with the former England rugby union attack coach set to head to the United States to work with Major League Rugby side Seattle Seawolves.
But Tomkins believes Warrington should do whatever they need to do to keep him.
“If they can keep hold of Martin Gleeson then that would be a big boost for Sam.
“Coaching is as much about the head coach as the team around him and with Gleeson they have some real brains and great leadership, so there is a lot for Warrington to be positive about.”